SW Motech Tank Bag – Practical luggage for off-road riding
SW Motech Tank Bag - Practical luggage for off-road riding
Taking luggage on an off-road bike is always tricky. It needs to be pretty well put together to withstand the rigours of bouncing around for hours on end, but it also needs to be light enough to leave your handling unaffected. If that weren’t enough to ask, it needs to be quick and easy to remove at the end of the day. We took the SW Motech Tankbag on a 400 mile journey to see how well it stood up to the challenge.
OK so conveniently the SW Motech Tank bag doesn’t need any bolts or brackets to attach to your bike. We were fitting it to a KTM 690 Enduro R, and all we needed to do was loop the back straps around any of the frame rails. On a 690, there are plenty thanks to the trellis design, but it’s best to keep the left side one away from the exhaust!
Once done the quick release straps click into the buckles on the bag. The front strap then goes under the front of the frame behind the headstock and up the other side to a plastic buckle.
You have to get the straps quite tight, and on the 690 that has the key at the front of the frame, ensure the bag is held away from the ignition barrel. Firstly to allow access, but secondly as we found out, to avoid the bag slipping forward and turning off the key!
The bag is made from tough 1680D Ballistic nylon which is supported internally by plastic to maintain the shape of the bag even when partially full.
So having attached the bag and it’s base, the bag is removable without undoing the straps again. The bag part just zips off leaving the base still strapped to the bike. Very handy if you are leaving the bike for a while and don’t want to lose all your valuables!
And for refuelling on bikes that the bag covers the fuel cap, you can just unclip the rear straps to reveal the filler. On the KTM, this isn’t an issue as the fuel tank is at the back of the seat.
The main part of the bag has loads of space, although clearly thanks to the design there’s more space at the back than the front. At the sides there are loads of mesh pockets for those easily lost valuables, from ear plugs to travel plugs. On the underside of the bag’s lid there are similarly multiple pockets that work well for travel documents.
If you fill up the main compartment and you still need more space, there is an additional zip around the top of the bag that adds another two inches to the height of the luggage compartment. This is a really useful feature if it warms up and need somewhere to stash unwanted layers or the liner of your riding jacket as we did.
There’s a waterproof inner bag for all your kit if it’s particularly damp – a common problem in the UK! With the top section extended, the capacity is a full 22 lites which is pretty impressive.
There may be items of your kit that you don’t want to put into the main bag, so the SW Motech Tank bag has three external pockets on each side and at the rear. When travelling, it’s always good to keep things in the same place on every day so when you check, you know exactly what should be where. It might sound OCD, but it works!
The external pockets are ideal for tools, wallets, phones – anything you don’t want to mix up with the rest of tour luggage. We ended up putting our allen key set, Leatherman tool, tape, zip ties – the usual suspects. While we kept our wallet in the rear pocket, there’s an access point for a cable if you want to run your earphones for music or you phone. There’s another similar cable port on the main compartment. The side pockets have reflective detail to assist visibility in the dark.
In perhaps what is a throwback to a time before GPS tracking and navigation, the SW Motech Tank bag has a large map pocket in the top with a clear plastic overlay. With the paperwork installed you can peer at your Ordnance survey map without it getting damp, a feature that will be welcomed by trail riders still relying on old-school navigation to follow the trails. For those slightly less Luddite, there’s an attachment point for a GPS unit.
TARMAC AND TRAILS
So how did the SW Motech Tank bag fare out on the trails and roads on it’s first and very long test? Well, very well to be honest, and given that we had no B option once we set off on a 400 mile trip from one side of the country to the other, that’s a good thing! The attachment is great and we like the ability to simply unzip the bag and leave the mounting plate on the bike.
Space wise the SW Motech Tank bag is about the right size for an enduro bike – any bigger and it would make the bike top heavy. We would like it to have been a tad narrower at the back as you could feel it when standing, particularly on up hill sections, but nothing too serious here.
We like the outer pockets for different travel essentials, but most of all we like the easy access to the main section as we could pop the camera in there on top of a sweatshirt as a cushion and then we could access it quickly for those important photos on an epic adventure.
Overall, the SW Motech tank bag made the ideal luggage option for the trip, combining practical size with good design.
OK so let’s not over-egg this – the SW Motech Tank bag looks good and makes a sensible addition to your bike if you need carrying space. The design is suitably understated but still looks good,
Hard to judge from the first trip, but as the SW Motech tank bag is made from hard wearing ballistic nylon with strong stitching and internal plastic to support the material, we think it will last very well.
OK so this is one of our regular categories but we’re not wearing the bag! However it is comfortable to ride with on the road and works well on the trail, although when standing we’d like it a bit narrower at the rear.
The SW Motech tank bag retails at £108.95 which we think is pretty reasonable for a well made and well designed bag that will allow you to take all those travel essentials for a long trip on a trail bike
RIDE EXPEDITIONS RATING - SW MOTECH TANK BAG
We’re impressed with the SW Motech tank bag – it fitted well, stayed in place for the whole trip and contained everything we wanted it to and kept our valuables and tools safe. We particularly liked the fact it would extend upwards for more capacity, as it meant we could remove layers and store them straight away. And as a place for keeping the trusty Nikon camera, a tank bag works far better for than anywhere else on the bike. Top marks chaps.
SW Motech gear is available from Motohaus in the UK – click here for their website.